Brentford are almost home. It’s Saturday morning and we’ve a game against Huddersfield Town just hours away. Whatever else happens we’re clear of both QPR and Fulham (whose fans continue to bite) in the Championship table after this most up and down of seasons. And should anybody have twenty minutes and any battery power to kill on the way up to, or back from, Yorkshire then Rasmus has spoken…
But firstly, the game at Huddersfield Town. The overwhelming desire for points aside, the big question for me remains one of team selection. In the best sense. Last weekend’s thumping of hapless Fulham saw Scott Hogan grab a brace, that wonderful 7th 5th minute effort from Sam Saunders and the oh-so confident debut of development squad left back Tom Field in place of Jake Bidwell.
I’d love to see both Scott and Tom given another chance. With Scott, it will be a question of risk/fitness although I am sure he is chomping at the bit to try and grab at least one more after such a lengthy period out. To say his recent run has been prolific would be nothing short of an understatement. Indeed, he was nominated for April’s Championship player of the month with barely 90 minutes of football under his belt.
As for Tom, how do you drop Jake Bidwell if he is fit? The answer is that you probably won’t, although at the very least I’d hope an appearance off the bench is used as a sign of the faith we have in the young player. Much like Scott’s recent run, the confidence shown in Tom’s debut performance really cannot be underestimated. Moreso given Fulham tried, and failed, to exploit what they perceived to be a weakness in our team. No goals against and two assists tell their own tale !
As ever, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and only Dean Smith knows who will start. The rest of us mere mortals will find out at around 11.15 this morning whether in the ground, on Bees Player or via Twitter.
For many of us, it will be an attempt at simul-cast. Watching Boro – Brighton with the sound off whilst listening to Mark Burridge and his team via ‘Player’. Much as I’d love to have been there today, family time calls. Instead, I’ll kid myself that it’s a process banking the ‘away trips’ for next season.
The other thing to grab my attention was the video from co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen which appeared on the official site yesterday evening (and you can find at the end of this column). I’m the first to admit being quite critical of Rasmus / the club over the course of the season in regards to their approach (or lack of) to comms. So it was with intrigue that I’ve sat through the twenty minute video piece.
With Chris Wickham very much administering a gentle probing, the over–riding message seemed to be that the current campaign has seen a rebuilding and consolidation exercise. That we are now in a position where the squad has contract stability and is a group of players we’d like together for the next two years.
It was another attempt to explain the strategy of the club. Something that, equally, is a lot easier in hindsight where the initial results of our decisions and the quite apparent observation that new players will take time to ‘bed in’ can be reviewed in the cold light of day.
Being honest, I do get the message Rasmus is trying to give out here although I thought it was a bit harsh at one point when asked if supporters understood what the club are trying to achieve.
“I can understand why some fans feel we destroyed the team from last season – that’s how it may have looked from outside…sometimes you have to take one step backwards to take two steps forwards” and later, “A lot of things we have been working on are not things you will see the results of immediately. Our job is to build a platform.I understand it can be difficult when you don’t have that context.”
And here is my gripe – this lack of immediate context. Clearly, he relates to the shorter term viewpoint of fans and their emotional bond with our team, noting, “We’re privileged to be working in an environment where people have so much passion and interest in what you do..,.. we shouldn’t complain about being in a world where people have a lot of passion.”
For many of us, rightly so, it’s all about the result. Dean Smith himself was described as the second hand on a clock that keeps us ticking . “We play a game, we get a result and we go again next week”.
There is a bigger plan afoot here. That much is evident and it was good to hear him enlarge upon this. But we are back to the context thing. Rasmus talked about building a culture amongst the players. All well and good and, indeed, one I agree with.
How about with the fans? This video was a great start, but it seemed very much the exception rather than the rule, safely delivered after we’d been through what will politely be called ‘the sticky patch’ at the start of 2016.
How hard would it be to have an update once a month / quarter ongoing? How hard to make more of a regular attempt to engage with us over, what I am sure, will be an exciting but challenging next few seasons.
Otherwise, just how do you expect fans to buy in to what you are trying to achieve and get that ‘context’ if we aren’t able to peer behind the curtain?
Genuinely. I’m pleased Rasmus has spoken. It is impossible to dispute his observation that we are in 10th place in the Championship, despite the challenges of building a foundation whilst trying to balance contracts, budgets and meet FFP. What individuals make of the message I’ll leave to you.
As a final thought on this, two quotes.
1-When talking about the problems we’d had at the start of the campaign (pitch, Head Coach, injuries) .. “It definitely will not happen again“.
2-Re the summer transfer window: “I am pretty confident that we’ll leave the transfer window stronger than we entered it”.
Both are big claims and fans don’t forget. I remember being told in September, “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.”
Whilst he has used the video to expand on how this has panned out this time around, it will be very interesting to see how that assertion is met at the end of the summer.
For now though, I can’t knock this attempt to explain more to the fans. More of the same ongoing would be good.